PEOPLE have the right to express their views on various issues to the Government, and the event in Tari last Thursday can be expected when there is a large gathering of people, Public Enterprises Minister Arthur Somare said.
But he said the commotion in Tari had been blown out of all proportion by the media.
Last Thursday, members of a crowd in Tari, angry at being “left out” of a social mapping exercise identifying the beneficiaries of the PNG LNG project, threw stones at Government ministers who were there to address them.
Mr Somare was among the ministers.
Police brought the situation under control and no one was hurt.
Mr Somare said in a statement last Friday: “Whenever there are very large gatherings of people, there is always the potential for some trouble, and this is what happened in Tari.
“However, these problems did not disrupt in any way the LBBSA forum involving landowners in the Hides PDL-1 area. Many people exercised their right to speak on various issues and to put their views to senior government bureaucrats and several Cabinet ministers.
“As was the case during negotiations on the Kokopo Benefits Sharing Agreement last May, this was another example of ‘democracy’ in action.
“I can confidently state that virtually all landowners living in the footprint area of the LNG project area are supportive of this project, as is the National Government, provincial government and local level governments.
“That is why their representatives were all signatories to the BSA in Kokopo.
“Genuine landowners have been clearly identified during social mapping carried out by ExxonMobil.
“At the LBBSA, landowners have the opportunity to raise any issues pertaining to the BSA and other local issues of relevance to the LNG project, and have shown themselves to be very adept at doing so,” Mr Somare said.